President Donald Trump created uproar both around the globe with his temporary halt to refugee programs and travel bans on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
Trump ordered a 120-day halt to allowing any refugees to enter the United States and barred any citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen from entering the U.S.
Parts of the order were blocked by federal judges last weekend and the Trump administration has since backed off barring people with green cards from entering the United States.
Southern Arizona congressional Democrats were quick to criticize Trump’s move. Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ03) told The Range that the chaos that followed the release of the executive orders “called into question this government’s ability to do its job and, more importantly, understand its own history. The whole administration right now looks chaotic and unhinged.”
U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ01) said that Trump’s “broad executive order banning refugees from entering our country fails to make America more secure. It ignores our real national security needs and has created chaos at our nation’s airports.”
“This executive order does not represent our nation’s values,” O’Halleran added in a prepared statement. “We can ensure refugees and immigrants coming into our country are properly vetted without violating our Constitution or the bedrock ideals of our democracy.”
U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ02) told the Weekly via email that immigration “must be balanced with the foremost priority of the federal government—protecting the American people. I served on a congressional task force focused on combating ISIS that found very real and dangerous gaps in our vetting processes. Likewise, our own intelligence officials have expressed vulnerabilities with these processes, which is why taking a comprehensive look at them is prudent and should be expected of any new administration. However, I have concerns about certain individuals being denied entry, such as green card holders, those who served alongside our military, and partner military service members who train here, such as Iraqi pilots in Tucson.”
Arizona’s Republican senators were more critical of the moves, with Arizona Sen. John McCain joining with Sen. Lindsey Graham of North Carolina to say they feared that Trump’s order “may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
“Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation,” McCain and Graham said. “It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.”
Both senators said Trump’s order would block interpreters who put their lives at risk to work for the U.S. military in danger, as well as hurting refugees who had been vetted and “pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.”
Trump fired back on Twitter: “The joint statement of former presidential candidates John McCain & Lindsey Graham is wrong—they are sadly weak on immigration. The two senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.”
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who was also a frequent critic of Trump during the campaign, also criticized the exec orders via a statement on the website Medium.
Flake wrote that “it’s unacceptable when even legal permanent residents are being detained or turned away at airports and ports of entry. Enhancing long term national security requires that we have a clear-eyed view of radical Islamic terrorism without ascribing radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims.”